From education to employment

Three UK projects shortlisted in prestigious global education awards


Three British education and training initiatives were selected out of 15 projects from 9 countries selected by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) for their innovative and impactful approaches to today’s most urgent education challenges.

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation, which supplies small electronic devices to help children code, made the shortlist along with United World Schools for their project “Teaching the Unreached”, which develops community schools in remote villages in East Asia, through a low-cost sustainable model.

The third British project to be selected is the Street Child organization’s “Family Business for Education”, which provides tailored support to out of school and at-risk children and their families in Sierra Leone, to sustainably remove economic and social barriers to education. 

Kavtia Kapoor, COO, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, said:

“The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is delighted to be selected as one of the 15 finalists. The WISE Awards are such a unique event – we’re very proud that Micro:bit and the worldwide community around us are being recognised in this way.”
Tim Howarth, Chief Executive Officer of United World Schools, commented:

“We’re thrilled to be nominated for a WISE award. We work in partnership with remote communities in extremely poor regions of SE Asia – by recognising United World Schools (UWS), WISE is acknowledging the commitment of these rural communities to bring education to their children and the commitment of students worldwide to support others on their learning journey.”
The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) announced the 15 finalists for the 2019 WISE Awards.
Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote innovative projects from across the world that are addressing global educational challenges.
The 15 finalists come from 9 countries and were selected by a pre-Jury of international experts.
The projects tackle a number of pressing educational issues including early childhood education; girls’ education; coding and digital skills; innovative higher educational models; providing education to marginalized population; improving teacher training and motivation, education in emergencies; career counselling; stimulating critical thinking and creativity; alternative ways of learning for employment, and children personal safety.
Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said:

“Each of the 2019 WISE Awards finalists has built an effective, tested solution to a global educational challenge. Whether ensuring access to fundamental early childhood education or preparing children for the 21st Century workplace, each project is already transforming children’s lives, and provides an inspirational model for others to adopt. This is vital to our mission at WISE, which centres around celebrating and enabling innovation in education.”
The other 2019 Finalists are Akilah Institute, MyMachine, Personal Safety Education Program, Stawisha Leadership Institute, OpenClassrooms, ReBootKamp, Dost Education, Peer Coaching Plan, Moringa School, Institut de l’Engagement, Programa Criança Feliz and CareerAware.
The 2019 Finalists were selected from a pool of 482 submissions evaluated according to strict criteria. They must be established, innovative educational projects that have already demonstrated a transformative impact on individuals, communities, and society of their context. They also need to be financially stable, have a clear development plan, and be scalable and replicable.

The WISE Awards winning projects will be announced in July 2019 and celebrated at the World Innovation Summit for Education, November 19-21 2019, in Doha, Qatar. In addition to publicity and networking opportunities, each initiative will receive $20,000 (US).

About the UK projects shortlisted

Micro:bit Educational Foundation

Headquarters: 12 Fetter Lane, EC4A 1JP. | Geographical Reach: Global | Number of beneficiaries: Over 3,000,000 | Project representative: Kavita Kapoor (COO)

About the project: The Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a not for profit organization, established with the support of our founding members (including the BBC) in September 2016. The Foundation is UK-based and redistributes the bulk of any surplus money generated into providing free devices to exceptional micro:bit educational programmes across the globe, producing free classroom resources and keeping the micro:bit as low cost as possible.

Our vision is to inspire every child to create their best digital future and bring the maker movement into the classroom. This ability to provide project-based learning and context has broadened participation and shown that digital creativity and coding is for all, having real impact on girls and those from under-represented groups.

The BBC micro:bit is an accessible and affordable device  – helping children and students around the world learn how to design, create, code and program. We have a variety of software editors, hardware accessories and instructional materials for a wide range of subjects. We work with partners (governments, national broadcasters, commercial organisations, 3rd sector organisations, educators) globally to provide access to entry level technology but with a high ceiling so that children can develop mastery of complex principles using the device.
micro:bit’s development is backed by academic research.

UK study (BBC)

  • 90% of students said – the micro:bit showed them that anyone can code
  • 86% said micro:bit made Computer Science more interesting
  • 70% more girls said they would choose Computing as a school subject after using the micro:bit
  • 85% of teachers agree micro:bit made ICT/Computer Science more enjoyable students.
  • Half of teachers who’ve used the micro:bit say they feel more confident as a teacher, particularly those who are not confident in teaching Computing.

Our future development involves building and supporting more communities of educators and partners to continue to remove the barriers to learning digital skills.

Project: United World Schools: Teaching the Unreached

Organisation: United World Schools | Headquarters: London, UK | Geographical Reach: We work in highly remote regions of Cambodia (Ratanakiri, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Koh Kong Provinces), Myanmar (Shan State) and Nepal (Sankhuwasabha and Gulmi Districts).
Number of beneficiaries: We currently work with over 160 communities, and have enrolled over 25,000 students into UWS schools since 2009. We also currently have 787 teachers working in our schools, 320 of whom have been recruited and trained from within the communities we work with.

Project representative: Tim Howarth, UWS Chief Executive Officer

About the project: United World Schools (UWS) works with highly remote communities across Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal. In these rural areas, government schools are a long walk away, meaning most children do not go to school at all. Many of the tribal communities we work with speak indigenous languages, further excluding them from government education which is taught in the national language. Lacking basic education and unable to speak their national languages, the prospects of these communities are bleak, with most families surviving as subsistence farmers. Without education, the children in these villages have little chance of breaking out of a cycle of poverty, vulnerability and exploitation. UWS is committed to changing this.

We have created a low-cost, sustainable model to teach the unreached. We develop community schools in the heart of remote villages, making education easily accessible. We involve communities every step of the way, recruiting and train local teachers who can deliver lessons in children’s own dialects. We also form a local body of parents to oversee each of our schools, ensuring they are community-owned projects.
Once open, we partner our schools with others in more affluent countries, who fundraise to support the ongoing running costs. In the long-term, we aim to transition our schools to local and government ownership. With this sustainable model, we are confident that each UWS school will continue to serve generations to come.

By teaching children to read, write and count, and to speak their national languages, they gain the skills to enter secondary education and access improved job opportunities. In the long-term, education will increase these children’s future earnings and help lift their communities out of poverty.
Our scalable model has given over 25,000 children the chance to attend school for the first time. We are committed to giving this opportunity to thousands more.

The Family Business Education Project

Organisation: Street Child | Headquarters: London, UK | Geographical reach: we work in ten countries across Africa and Asia
Beneficiaries: Over 200,000 Children.

Street Child goes where the need is the greatest, running locally-rooted projects in education, child protection and livelihoods.
 Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, with very low basic education completion rates. Numerous studies have found household poverty to be the primary barrier to access and retention in basic education. The Family Business for Education project in Sierra Leone works to sustainably remove economic and social barriers to education for out of school and at risk children through a tailored support package for the child and their family.

 The package provides school placement support and the incentive of an education kit to enrol and incentivise children who are out of school or at risk of drop out. Trained social workers target particularly marginalized children with counselling and family mediation. A livelihoods support package empowers caregivers to develop a more sustainable source of income for the children’s future school retention.  Caregivers receive business planning and training support followed by a grant commensurate to the size of the family, and then enrolment in a 20 week matched savings scheme.

 Street Child has worked with over 22,000 children in Sierra Leone using this model, and impact studies show an average 85-90 % retention in school two years after Street Child’s support has ceased. We have successfully replicated the model in Liberia and Nigeria, and our aim is to scale up in those countries and other countries in the future.
About the WISE Awards: Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote six successful innovative projects that are addressing global educational challenges. Since 2009, WISE has received more than 3,600 applications from over 150 countries. Up until now, 60 projects have won the WISE Awards, from a wide variety of sectors and locations for their innovative character, their positive contribution and their potential for scalability and adaptability. These projects represent a growing resource of expertise and sound educational practice. Year by year, WISE is building a community of educational innovators which offers a fertile environment for ground-breaking collaborations. Today the WISE Awards network comprises pioneering projects that are helping bring real change to societies and communities.

About the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE): Established by Qatar Foundation in 2009 under the leadership of its Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative, evidence-based thinking, debate, and purposeful action in education.  Through the biennial summit, collaborative research and a range of on-going programs, WISE is a global reference in new approaches to education. 

The global WISE Summit held in Doha, Qatar will be from November 19-21, 2019 under the theme “UnLearn ReLearn What it means to be Human”.

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